Free radicals are released when your body is under stress, including those times when you’re trying to reach a new personal best under a stack of plates. Left unchecked, these free radicals can cause oxidative stress which can end up damaging cell DNA. A study published in theInternational Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism describes one way your body fights back.
Researchers recruited 20 untrained males and assigned them to an 8-week program that started off with 8 exercises at 50% of one rep max (1RM). The sessions were spread out to allow at least 48 hours of recovery, and by the 8th week subjects were working with 80% of 1RM. Measurements of blood samples showed that superoxide dismutase activity increased between the first and final weeks. These enzymes provide an antioxidant defense to cells.
True Strength Moment: While increasing muscle size and strength, your body also ramps up antioxidant defenses to protect against oxidative stress. This study used gym newbies and didn’t look into the potential long-term effects of weight training. A high-potency multivitamin that includes ample amounts of vitamin C and other antioxidants might offer micronutrient insurance against gaps in your healthy diet.